Compensation as a victim of crime

Aim of this page

This page sets out how a criminal record may impact on your ability to claim criminal injuries compensation.

It forms part of our information section on other areas of life.

Why is this important?

The criminal Injuries compensation scheme is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and is a government-funded scheme designed to “compensate blameless victims of violent crime in Great Britain”.

The rules of the scheme and the payments awarded are set by Parliament. It’s not our intention to go through the scheme in detail on this page, but it’s important to know that if you have a criminal record, the CICA may refuse or reduce any payments to you. Importantly, if your conviction is spent then this shouldn’t impact on any claim you make.

Unfortunately, despite many challenges, the government remains of the view that unspent convictions should have an impact on compensation. As you will read below, this has been challenged in the courts and has so far been unsuccessful.

Full details of the scheme (updated in 2012) can be found on the government website.

Withholding or reducing an award

As part of the application process, the CICA will consider:

  • The evidence given by you to the police at the time of the incident
  • Your criminal record; and
  • Medical evidence (if required)

If you have any convictions which are unspent at the date of the application, these will be taken into account and, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the amount of your payment will usually be withheld or reduced.

An award will not be made to an applicant who, on the date of their application, has an unspent conviction for an offence which resulted in:

  1. A sentence excluded from rehabilitation (for example an IPP sentence)
  2. A custodial sentence
  3. A sentence of service detention
  4. Removal from Her Majesty’s service
  5. A community order
  6. A youth rehabilitation order
  7. A sentence equivalent to a sentence under sub-paragraphs (1) to (6) imposed under the law of Northern Ireland or a member state of the European Union, or such a sentence properly imposed in a country outside the European Union.

For offences which did not result in one of the above sentences/disposals, an award will be reduced using a penalty point system. The more recent the conviction and the more serious the sentence, the more penalty points the conviction will attract.

Penalty points

Further information about the points system can be found here.

The points system is aimed at improving consistency in the decision making process, however the CICA can decide to make greater or lesser reductions if they believe the circumstances warrant it. For example, a smaller reduction may be made if you were injured whilst helping the police uphold the law. Alternatively, if you have a low penalty point score but your conviction involved a violent or sexual offence, the award may be reduced further.

As well as any convictions you have at the time of making your application, the CICA will take account of any other convictions you receive before your claim is settled.

Scenarios

The following scenarios are examples to help show how the CICA will deal with applicants who have a criminal record.

2 years ago James was convicted of theft and received a 2 year community order.

Last month, James was the victim of an unprovoked attack in the street which resulted in serious injury to his head and neck. He submitted an application for Criminal Injuries Compensation.

The CICA did not award James any compensation on the basis that his community order was unspent for a further year.

7 months ago Sally was convicted of criminal damage and received a £500 fine.

Two months ago when she was returning home from a night out, Sally was sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant.

Sally’s claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation was reduced as a result of her conviction being unspent.

Jason received a 2 year prison sentence for fraud in 2008. He applied for Criminal Injuries Compensation a month ago after he was assaulted by a drunken youth on a train home from work.

Jason was awarded the full amount of his claim as his conviction was spent.

 

Appealing a decision

If you disagree with the decision make by the CICA, you can appeal it through the First-tier Tribunal. You will need to appeal the decision within 90 days of it being given.

You will need to set out in any appeal application why you believe the decision was wrong and, if possible, provide any additional information which would support your reason for the appeal.

Members of the First-tier Tribunal are entirely independent and will make a decision based on the whole claim. Their decision is final unless a Judicial Review finds that they have erred in law.

Recent appeals

In 2015 TQ, appealed a decision made by the CICA to refuse her compensation on the basis that she had an unspent conviction at the time of the application.

The details of the case were that when she was 12 years old she was raped and, despite reporting the matter to the police, her assailant was not prosecuted. As a result of this she started to use drugs heavily and suffered from uncontrollable anger issues. In 2008 and 2010 she received several convictions including assaulting a police officer and possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

In 2013 she received severe injuries after being sprayed with acid by an unknown assailant who was later sentenced to 6 years 3 months in prison. She applied for and was refused compensation.

The First-tier Tribunal upheld the original decision stating that ‘Annex D of the scheme distinguishes between those with spent and unspent convictions by referring to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. In numerous areas of Government policy making, it is legitimate and appropriate for those with unspent convictions to be treated differently to those with spent convictions. In our judgement, the provision of Criminal Injuries Compensation is one such area’.

In 2016, the Guardian reported the case of a rape victim who took her case to the High Court successfully challenged the CICA decision in her case (although the circumstances are quite exceptional).

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information is available on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 section
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on the page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine.
This page was last fully reviewed and updated in April 2017. If you’ve spotted something that needs updating, please let us know by emailing the details to advice@unlock.org.uk.

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